I hate them!
And I hate them for a lot of reasons.
THEY ARE EXPENSIVE!
Why are they so expensive? I don't know. It's just some aluminum or carbon fiber tubing. It must be a supply and demand thing. Maybe if more of you would buy decent tripods the price would come down. Currently, if it's cheap; it's crap.
THEY ARE HEAVY!
This I get...you want to support heavy gear you need heavy gear...But damn! Add a 10 pound tripod to my 17 pound camera and lens combo and it's almost 30 pounds!
Now I have to bring my wife along just to help me carry the stuff!
THEY ARE AWKWARD!
When I'm carrying the setup, because my wife got tired, I tend to smack her in the head or the shins every time I turn to "look around". My wife's not very cheerful about carrying my gear when her shins hurt.
THEY ARE SLOW!
"Oh please Mr. Bird...don't swallow that fish until I get set up."
It takes SEVERAL MINUTES to set up a tripod properly. If the legs are already extended you might get lucky and be able to get it half-ass set up in 15-30 seconds....."GULP"...."DAMN!"
JUST ONE IS NOT ENOUGH!
Want to do macro work? Well then you need something very configurable and able to get very low and close...maybe a "ground pod".
Got a heavy super tele? Well you're going to need a big beast to hold that weight..preferably one without a center column but still tall enough to use.
Did you buy the "ground pod"? Well then you need another tripod for when the beast is just overkill and too much too carry.
Want to use that super tele from your car? Well you're going to need a "window pod".
And it just keeps on going!
A TRIPOD IS NOT ENOUGH!
You have to buy expensive heads for all of them!
A Gimbal for the super tele setup. A ball head for the macro setup. A pan-tilt if you want to do video with that spiffy new DSLR. And that's THE MINIMUM!
At last count I had five tripod things. I have the giant Gitzo with a gimbal head. I have a smaller Benro with an Acratech ball head. I have one of those crappy "gorilla pod" things which I'll mount a flash on. I have a Kirk window pod/ ground pod thing with a side gimbal on it (but I tend to use a Puffin Pad instead). I have an old Tripod which holds a studio strobe for taking crappy pictures of crappy stuff I'm selling on Ebay.
And I've given away at least two cheap tripods over the years...... They were cheap and thus they were crap (see point 1).
But that's not the worst of it!
Oh no, not by a long shot....
There is another reason to hate tripods.
It is this one reason above all others that I hate tripods as much as I do.
THEY REQUIRE PATIENCE!!!
Setting up a tripod implies that you are going to be there a while. If you're not going to be there a while then everything else makes it pointless. It means you are going to sit there and wait for that bird to show up, for that bear to actually catch a damn fish, for that perfect bit of light which may never happen.... It requires patience, and quite a bit of it.
I DON'T HAVE PATIENCE! And no one is willing to sell me some!
I have to spend all this money on tripods and heads and put up with all of the inconveniences and I STILL don't have everything required AND I can't buy it?? WTF??? That's not FAIR!
So what to do?
I've tried monopods, I actually kind of like them...All of the same issues as a tripod but "less", about 2/3 less actually. But they add a new problem, your stuff keeps falling over. You can't just set up and walk away, you have to hold onto it....No relaxing on the job!
To resolve this for myself I've made a custom gunstock setup... It's an AK 47 six position collapsible stock modified to mount via Arca clamp and with a 2 position "trigger" from a cordless drill. I made a forward "palm rest" which is adjustable/removable via Arca clamp...That's it. All you need now is an Arca plate that suits the lens...
With the palm rest in place and elbow tucked into the body I can hold the Sigmonster up and steady for several minutes...With a lighter lens like the 500 f/4 it's child's play. I become a very effective bipod. If it gets a bit heavy I'll remove the palm rest and attach a monopod....Back to tripod with only the monopod penalties.
BUT, if I'm getting really serious....If I'm going all out.....Like when I'm trying to capture the Mighty Tree Swallow
......then I might even attach it to the Giant Gitzo and Gimbal setup...
In the end, sometimes you just have to use a tripod no matter how much they suck.